Philadelphia police commissioner, community leaders discuss gun violence ahead of National Night Out

The city has reported more than 320 murders to date.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Change can take many forms.

In North Philadelphia, it was represented in one way by a trio of women from the nonprofit Providence Center working diligently to sow literal and figurative seeds of growth in a spot once seen a dumping ground.

"We just completely cleared out this lot," said Director of Youth Development Shannon McGill. "We planted some fruits, vegetables, flowers - just our gift to the community."

Just feet from their mission, another unfolded in the ongoing effort to change the culture of community and police relations as violence surges in the city.

"(What is) the message to the parents that want to know what's being done about the violence, particularly when you see the surge in violence when it comes to children?" asked Action News reporter George Solis.

"The police department, you know, again, I'm asked this almost every week, we're doing everything that we absolutely can. We're out there making arrests, we're establishing relationships, trying to get witnesses to come forward," replied Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

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With more than 1,200 people shot in Philadelphia this year, the gun violence crisis has garnered the attention of federal agencies, local leaders and city residents.




It's a message Commissioner Outlaw will be offering again during National Night Out, the annual campaign that promotes police-community partnerships.



"Typically, what initiates our interaction with the public might be an enforcement act or a call for service, someone is in crisis. That isn't what tomorrow is about. We're meeting at a level playing field, to say 'Hi, how are you?'" Outlaw said.

Still, those who live in communities where the violence seems to never end question whether it's enough.

"My grandchildren are not allowed past the gate on my porch," said life-long Philadelphian Monica Wilson.

Wilson lives only feet from where a shooting took place Monday morning.

"This is a disgrace. Why can't we do a state of emergency?" Wilson asked.

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Brian Taff has a one-on-one conversation with ABC News' Pierre Thomas about gun violence in America after a visit to Philadelphia.



She fears if there isn't more change, what will be left to grow into?

"The person who can't sit on their porch, the mother who's afraid for their child to go to school, those are the people who need to be at the table. That's not what's happening or, if it is, it's not happening in the capacity that it needs to happen," Wilson said.

The city has reported more than 320 murders to date.
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